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LZ 129 Hindenburg facts for kids

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Hindenburg at lakehurst
The Hindenburg in 1936
Hindenburg burning
The Hindenburg shortly after it caught on fire

The LZ 129 Hindenburg was a large German airship, built in 1936. It was named in honor of the German field marshal and statesman Paul von Hindenburg. Such airships are called Zeppelin. Along with another Zeppelin, LZ 130 Graf Zeppelin, it was the biggest airship in the world at the time it was built.

The Zeppelin gained lots of publicity and became very famous. The boxer Max Schmeling flew on it back to Germany after defeating Joe Louis in the United States. It was also present during the opening ceremony of the 1936 Summer Olympics which were held in Berlin. This attention was part of the Zeppelin company's plan to offer a fleet of their airships for trans-atlantic service.

Design and development

The Zeppelin Company had proposed LZ 128 in 1929, after the world flight of the LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin. This ship was to be approximately 237 m (778 ft) long and carry 140,000 cubic metres (4,900,000 cu ft) of hydrogen.

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1986-127-05, Bau des Luftschiffs LZ 129 "Hindenburg"
Hindenburg under construction

Manufacturing of components began in 1931, but construction of the Hindenburg did not commence until March 1932.

Hindenburg had a duralumin structure, incorporating 15 Ferris wheel-like main ring bulkheads along its length, with 16 cotton gas bags fitted between them. The airship's outer skin was of cotton doped with a mixture of reflective materials intended to protect the gas bags within from radiation, both ultraviolet (which would damage them) and infrared (which might cause them to overheat). The gas cells were made by a new method pioneered by Goodyear using multiple layers of gelatinized latex rather than the previous goldbeater's skins.

Bundesarchiv Bild 147-0640, Luftschiff Hindenburg (LZ-129), Speisesaal
Dining room
Bundesarchiv Bild 147-0639, Luftschiff Hindenburg (LZ-129), Gesellschaftsraum
Lounge, with the world map painted on the wall

Hindenburg's interior furnishings were designed by Fritz August Breuhaus, whose design experience included Pullman coaches, ocean liners, and warships of the German Navy. The upper "A" Deck contained 25 small two-passenger cabins in the middle flanked by large public rooms: a dining room to port and a lounge and writing room to starboard. Paintings on the dining room walls portrayed the Graf Zeppelin's trips to South America. A stylized world map covered the wall of the lounge. Long slanted windows ran the length of both decks. The passengers were expected to spend most of their time in the public areas, rather than their cramped cabins.

The lower "B" Deck contained washrooms, a mess hall for the crew, and a smoking lounge. Harold G. Dick, an American representative from the Goodyear Zeppelin Company, recalled: "The only entrance to the smoking room, which was pressurized to prevent the admission of any leaking hydrogen, was via the bar, which had a swiveling air lock door, and all departing passengers were scrutinized by the bar steward to make sure they were not carrying out a lit cigarette or pipe."

The disaster

On May 6, 1937, the Hindenburg was landing in New Jersey after a transatlantic flight, when it burst into flames. 36 people died and many were injured. The Hindenburg was destroyed by the burning of the hydrogen that was inside it. There are many opinions on what started the fire.

An announcer, Herbert Morrison reported the landing and then screamed and said, "Oh the humanity" after it caught on fire. Morrison's line is now famous around the world as well as photos and film footage of the disaster.

Appearances in media

The Hindenburg by Richie
Hindenburg in 1936, with reporters and film crew
  • An image of the burning airship was used as the cover of Led Zeppelin's self-titled debut album (1969).
  • The Hindenburg is a 1975 film inspired by the disaster, but centered on the sabotage theory. Some of these plot elements were based on real bomb threats before the flight began, as well as proponents of the sabotage theory. The actual model from the movie is now on permanent display in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
  • In The Waltons 1977 episode "The Inferno", John Boy Walton is sent by a publication to cover the New Jersey landing, and is traumatized by witnessing the event.
  • Charlie Chan was a passenger aboard the Hindenburg in the 1937 film Charlie Chan at the Olympics.

Specifications

Giant Aircraft Comparison
Hindenburg-class airship compared to largest fixed-wing aircraft

Data from Airships: A Hindenburg and Zeppelin History site

General characteristics

  • Crew: 40 to 61
  • Capacity: 50–70 passengers
  • Length: 245 m (803 ft 10 in)
  • Diameter: 41.2 m (135 ft 2 in)
  • Volume: 200,000 m3 (7,100,000 cu ft)
  • Powerplant: 4 × Daimler-Benz DB 602 (LOF-6) V-16 diesel engines, 890 kW (1,190 hp) each

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 135 km/h (84 mph; 73 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 122 km/h (76 mph; 66 kn)

Images for kids

See also

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